President Obama’s legacy will evaporate because his promises to the American people were never actually attainable…
Friday marks the end of President Obama’s two terms in the White House. The country has changed in many and significant ways in the eight years he’s occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but so too has the man himself.
For many Americans, their first memory of Barack Obama was in 2004 when he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Then just an Illinois State Senator, he was a candidate for U.S. Senate, and four short years later would become President of the United States.
Obama’s speech that night is largely remembered for these lines:
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.
The sad, bitter irony is that despite campaigning in 2008 on a message of “hope and change” and a pledge to fundamentally change the way our nation’s capital worked, Obama allowed the “spin masters and negative ad peddlers” take control of his message, and ultimately, his legacy.
To wit, an analysis of Obama’s 2012 reelection ads found that a “full 86 percent of Obama’s television advertising … has been negative, according to Wesleyan Media Project.”
Obama’s decision to turn his back on his message of hope was the result of a lackluster first four years in office, and slash-and-burn politics was the only workable strategy against his opponent, Gov. Mitt Romney.
Obama couldn’t run on an economic rebound, and some of his biggest legislative accomplishments, such as his health care law, are unpopular in the polls.
Now, as he leaves office, Obama is finding the American people more polarized and at odds with each other than before he took office. How did this happen? A new Frontline documentary on PBS explores that very question and found a multitude of answers:
Obama’s disinterest in schmoozing and dealmaking (“he’s not an arm-twister,” says an aide); a few blown administration opportunities (like not scolding the bank bailout CEOs called to the White House); Obama gaffes that were beauts (inviting Paul Ryan to the president’s speech lambasting the Republicans; riling John Boehner; mocking Trump when he was in the White House Correspondents Dinner audience); the growing power of right-wing talk radio (the documentary is peppered with salty soundbites from the broadcasters); lousy PR promoting his policies (as Obama noted on his upcoming 60 Minutes interview) and, perhaps above all, the president missing key signs of anger and populism bubbling up across the nation.
Whatever the specific reasons may be, they each chip away at any lasting legacy Obama wanted preserved. And what Obama’s own actions didn’t chip away, President Trump likely will with relish.
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